Sun, Dec 15, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Klopp urges Liverpool fans to ‘enjoy the journey’ after agreeing to new club deal

AFP, LONDON

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp celebrates after his side beat Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 in their English Premier League match at Anfield in Liverpool, England, on Nov. 30.

Photo: Reuters

Juergen Klopp on Friday said that he signed a contract extension keeping him at Liverpool until 2024 to project an image of security and stability for future potential transfer targets.

Klopp, who became Liverpool manager in 2015, guided them to UEFA Champions League glory in June and they are currently eight points clear at the top of the English Premier League.

The German’s previous deal was due to expire in 2022 and while he said that extending it was not a priority for him, he felt it could be a key factor when it came to persuading new recruits to join.

If he sees out the contract, he would be the club’s longest-serving manager since Bob Paisley.

“The club was asking for a while already if we could talk about an extension and I thought it makes sense before things are getting a bit intense — not now, I was completely calm — but maybe in the summer, we would have started again,” Klopp said at his prematch news conference. “With new players, when you want to bring them in, they ask: ‘How long is the manager going to be here?’ We all wanted to avoid that, so it’s done and I am really happy about that.”

“I thought it was positive and good that people know I will be here a bit longer,” Klopp said. “It gives us stability.”

Klopp, 52, striving to win Liverpool’s first top-flight title for 30 years, has revolutionized the club’s fortunes since his arrival at Anfield and said they were in a “good place.”

“Four-and-a-half years from now sounds like forever in football,” he said. “It would then be nine years — the longest spell I’ve ever been at a club. It was not too bad till now — but we don’t feel that it could not be better — so let’s try to make the best time of our lives. Enjoy the ride, enjoy the journey.”

Liverpool had taken “giant strides in re-establishing themselves as one of world football’s powerhouses” under the German, owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) said in a statement.

During Klopp’s first campaign at Anfield, Liverpool reached the finals of both the FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League, but ended the season empty-handed.

They lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in last year’s UEFA Champions League final, but regrouped this year and became European champions for a sixth time after a 2-0 win against Tottenham in Madrid.

Liverpool lost just one match in the Premier League last season, racking up 97 points — the best total in the club’s history — but missed out on the title by a solitary point to Manchester City.

So far this season, Klopp has overseen Liverpool’s surge to the top of the Premier League, where they currently sit eight points clear after 15 wins from their opening 16 matches.

Liverpool, who hosted bottom club Watford yesterday, are chasing their first English top-flight title since 1990, and their 19th overall.

They reached the knockout stages of the Champions League with a 2-0 win against Salzburg on Tuesday and are to play in the Club World Cup in Qatar later this month.

Klopp, who won two Bundesliga titles with Borussia Dortmund, is reportedly close to signing Red Bull Salzburg playmaker Takumi Minamino for a bargain £7.28 million (US$9.7 million), but would not be drawn on the impending January arrival of the Japan international.

“A very good player, I can say that, but I saw a few very good players on the Salzburg team, much more than I wanted,” he said, before giving the game away by telling a Japanese journalist: “Maybe we will see you more often now.”

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